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Module 4 :
Sensitivity to VALUE ~ GRISAILLE in Oils

In this intro to the classical approach to oil painting each student will work on one grisaille portrait, rendering the value one for the entire session from a photo.


Time: 1:00PM to 4:00PM or 6:30PM to 9:00PM (Flexible)


Materials Required: B&W oil paint, brushes, pallet knife, cups for oil and odourless solvent and rags PLUS a black and white photo you wish to recreate in oils, sized for a 16″x20″ canvas. Please email your photo to Gary one week in advance he will get them sized and printed for you at no extra cost.

Location: 7 Labatt Ave., Studio 104B, Toronto, M5A 1Z1 near Shuter St. and River St.
NOTE: Doors are locked after 5:00PM. To be let in, please call Gary at 416-910-5535

Parking: Students use the free ROVER Parking app to find available parking (usually right next door in the Salvation Army parking lot. There is easy TTC access. The closest TTC stops are River st. on the Dundas Bus or River St. on the Queen St. East line

Fee: $380 ($350 for 7 weeks + $30 for supplies/model fees) 16"x20" canvases will be primed and sanded until appropriate for such realism. These will be covered by the supplies fee.

Payment: Call or text 416-910-5535 or email for e-transfer details

Questions: Call Gary at 416-910-5535

Rea's work from level 4

Rea's work from Module 4 workshop.

"Gary Smith is a wonderful teacher, relaxed, professional, so talented, and so nice. Look what he made me do! My chin is still on the floor. It's not even totally totally finished, and my sisters and I are blown away."



Using the classical approach of oil painting you will work on one portrait for the entire session from a photo. Choose your favourite person and send a great photo to Gary at least a week before the course so he can enhance it and print it out at a larger size. The resulting painting will be like a black & white photo. Naturally, that painting will be a treasure. The learning goal is to improve your sensitivity to see values which, in turn, will improve your new paintings for the rest of your life. THAT IS well worthwhile.

You will succeed beyond your own expectations.

The process: You will be taught to trace for this specific purpose but you may also choose to draw it freehand at home. Our goal for this module is to strive for perfection of values and edges. All the time will be needed for that so no time for drawing in the studio.

1. analyze light and dark pattern … force simplicity
2. determine the 2 values (light/dark) then 3
3. paint in average dark
4. divide the darks
5. paint either the medium or the light areas
6. render values (to the sweet spot) and edges
7. Repeat until satisfied then repeat some more.

Artists detail their grisailles as much or as little as they wish. Samples will be shown in variations.

For this module, in order to fine tune your sensitivity to values and edges you are to render your grisaille as far as you are able. That is your challenge. Later on, with more experience, you will paint your grisailles much simpler and start colouring.

 Grisaille Process

Step 1 Imprimatura
Step 2 Analyze Light and Dark Pattern
Step 3 Force Simplicity
Step 4 Determine the 2 Values, Then 3
Step 5 Paint in Average Darks
Step 6 Divide the Darks
Step 7 Paint Either the Medium or the Light Areas
Step 8 Render Values and Edges
Step 9 Repeat until Satisfied then Repeat More

painting of a man

painting of a man in uniform

painting of a man in suit

painting of a man

painting of a smiling woman